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» Kuldiga «
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Kuldiga is one of the oldest, best-preserved and picturesque towns in Latvia built on the banks of the Venta River in Kurzeme. Believed to stand on the site of an original Cour settlement dating from Viking times, it was first mentioned in historical documents in 1242. It hosts a number of historical buildings including many churches and the remains of an ancient castle which was once the site of fierce Latvian tribal battles. The city is also known as for one of Europe's widest waterfalls with a span of about nine hundred feet. The city lies 150 kilometers west of the capital, and it is easily accessible by bus.

The city flourished due to a waterfall, one of the widest in Europe, which prevented ships from travelling any further than Kuldiga. Thus in 13th century it developed as a major port and trade centre. Gradually, the city became so prosperous that it joined the ranks of other great ports, such as Hamburg, Bremen and Riga by becoming a member of the prestigious Baltic trade organisation, the Hanseatic League.

In 1561, the Grand Duchy of Courland was founded and Kuldiga became one of its capital cities. In its golden age under Duke Jacob (1642 - 1682) the city was a centre for manufacturing and shipbuilding. The duke sold war ships to England and created his own personal fleet which gained colonies in Tobago in the Caribbean and at the mouth of the Gambia River in West Africa.

Tragically, this hub of trade and commerce was devastated in the wake of the Great Northern War (1700-1721) and the subsequent epidemic which devastated much of Eastern Europe's population. Kuldiga never regained its former grandeur, but its beautiful, historic streets and red-roofed buildings leave much for the eye, as well as the imagination.
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